Originally posted Friday, April 22, 2005
10 things i've learned about business strategy and planning
1. Drucker was right*. There really are only two business functions: marketing and innovation. I doubt that one company in 20 incorporates this bedrock fact into their culture or mindset or strategy.
2. Given #1, strategy should spend 80% of its time on marketing and innovation. If this is not happening, the firm is not leveraging the time it spends on strategic planning. Even worse, it is a strong indication that the firm is operating as a business-manqué.
3. The best marketing has nothing to do with gimmicks or bold advertising. It is all about communicating real value to the right audience. #2 is not an invitation for accountants to play copywriter.
4. Often, strategic success does not look like marketing. During Coke's great years in the 1980s and 90s, they focused on logistics and distribution. However, this was in service of a profound strategic insight and a clear marketing objective.
5. Most corporate data are close to useless for strategic planning. It is inward-looking and does not focus on customers, markets, or innovation.
6. Very little of the experience gained in internal operations is applicable to marketing challenges. Thus, participatory strategic planning runs into a problem: the participants are inexperienced and not apt.
7. The biggest, most important strategy questions require hard thinking. There are not easy answers.
8. Many people will try to make money by convincing you that #7 is not so. Consultants, software vendors, even internal advocates will argue that they have the magic bullet that will make the hard work disappear.
9. "A will to system is a lack of integrity". Shortcuts require templates that can create false expectations and analytical blinders. Surprise and disappointment are the inevitable results.
10. The devil is not in the details of the plan. It is in the big issues that are ignored while tinkering with the minutia.
* The Practice of Management, (1954).